The Ballagh Cycling Challenge takes place on Sunday June 23 promoted by South Laois Tourism and Ossory Cycling Club.
This 100k & 40K Tour which traverses both flat and hilly terrain brings you through the scenic countryside of South Laois and North Kilkenny starting from the square in Durrow with registration from 9am with the 100k starting at 10am and the 40k at 11am. You will follow the south Laois cycle trail on the R639 to Cullohill where the castle built here in 1425 was stronghold and residence of Brian MacGiollaPhradaig, first Lord Baron of upper Ossory.
Turning right at the Community Centre you pass the ancient burial ground at Parknahown uncovered by the construction of the M8 Motorway at Oldtown Construction you again turn right where at Aughmacart Bridge it will carry you over the Goul River. After passing Aughmacart Castle and Priory the route turns left at the five crossroads and continues by Shragh Hill towards Rathdowney.
The 18 hole golf course is on your right as you approach the town. Turning right your enter the square and at Meadow Meats you again take a right. As you leave the Conoboro Bridge you pass over the Erkina River. Continuing on the R433 you reach the entrance to Grantstown Lake which was the site of a famous battle in 1156 between the O’Phelan’s and the Ulstermen.
After passing under the M8 motorway at Junction 3 you visit the Tidy Town Award winning village of Ballacolla where refreshments are available at the Hawthorn. You then turn right on the R434 in the direction of Durrow and the Swan Cross the trail turns left downhill to pass Moyne Demesne. Watercastle Bridge carries you over the Nore River before you reach the Dublin/ Cork road.
At this point participants on the 40k tour will turn right and continue on the way marked cycle track back to the finish in Durrow.
While the more adventurous 100k cyclist will cross the N77 and continue to Ballinakill from Ballinakill the trail takes you through Ironmills to Castlcomer where refreshments will be available at the Community School once famous for as a coal mining town. At this point you join the North Kilkenny cycle trail and journey to Ballyragget.
On leaving the town on the N77 you will again cross the Nore River before you approach the Glanbia plant you make a left turn and continue through Lisdowney you will now engage some hilly sections as you make your way to Gathabawn Village via Foyle Bridge. Turning right in Gathabawn to encounter the beautiful Cullohill Mountain.
At Cullohill Castle the stage takes a sharp turn right. At Ballykealy Cross you turn left uphill to challenge the 825 ft. Ballagh where on a clear day Kilkenny City can be viewed from this section. At the top of the Ballagh a steep decline brings you to the finish in Durrow where a buffet lunch will be served at the Castle Arms Hotel. For further information please visit our website www.ballaghcyclingchallenge.com or 087 2395357.